May 3, 2021
Two Brothers Suspected in Smuggling Attempt Arrested
After Saudi Arabia cited drug trafficking problems as reasoning for its recent produce ban on Lebanon, Lebanon’s interior minister has stepped up efforts to address the issue. Yesterday Lebanese authorities arrested two brothers who are suspects of the incident that led to Saudi’s ban in the first place. They had allegedly tried to smuggle over 5 million pills of amphetamine Captagon in pomegranate shipments to Saudi Arabia. [Al Arabiya]
NGO Submits Legal Complaint Against BDL Governor
Riad Salameh has been accused of suspicious real estate purchases in France by an NGO called Sherpa, who has submitted a legal complaint. The complaint details Salameh’s foreign investments including real estate property in the millions. Salameh said that he declared these properties in France before becoming central bank governor in 1993. [France 24]
Maritime Border Talks Set to Resume Tomorrow
A mediation team led by US Ambassador John Desrocher is arriving in Beirut today in preparation for maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel that are set to resume on Tuesday. Maritime negotiations began last October but stalled shortly after. Ambassador Desrocher and his team will continue mediation efforts at UNIFIL’s headquarters is Lebanon’s southern city Naqoura. [Reuters]
Opinion & Analysis
European University Institute
Breaking the Cycle: A New American Approach to Lebanon
Noe writes, “A new US-led approach to the country is therefore urgent, if only from the limited perspective of peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean and Levant. Any such re-orientation, however, must first be linked to a marshalling of allies, competitors and enemies for a regional dialogue focused on Iran and Saudi Arabia and an immediate de-escalation or freezing of relebant conflicts, especially between Hezbollah and Israel. With such a vital ‘breathing space,’ a multilateral Lebanon-specific reform policy could then be credibly launched to invest in effective democratic instituion-building, a new socio-political compact in line with the Taif Accord that ended the last civil war and a national defense strategy capable of delivering security for all Lebanese citizens.”
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JINSA National Security Digest Podcast
A Failing State: What’s Next For Lebanon?
What role do the Lebanese Armed Forces play in enabling Hezbollah’s control? Are the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon effective at cabining Hezbollah in southern Lebanon? These questions and more are discussed in this podcast episode with IDF MG (ret.) Yaacov Ayish, JINSA Senior Vice President for Israeli Affairs and former head of IDF Operations, and Tony Badran, Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Lebanon’s Disabled Community is Dying
Nasser writes, “Lebanon’s economic problems, due to decades of mismanagement and corruption, have disproportionately impacted its disabled population. Inflation has driven the value of the Lebanese pound to over 10,000 to the USD, resulting in massive unemployment among disabled people. Today, more than 80 percent of Lebanese with a disability are unemployed, including a large portion of Lebanese youth. Therefore, as the rising cost of living increases, so does the daily burden of the disabled community. To counteract this issue, international donors and NGOs have contributed funds, medical equipment, and educational services…These efforts, as well as assistance that NGOs provide to disabled people, are honorable and necessary. However, they are only a temporary response to a much deeper crisis. Those who receive support from NGO aid programs only cope with living in poverty – they do not escape it. Ultimately, the underlying issue remains unaddressed. Lebanon possesses laws designed to secure the rights of individuals with disabilities that should make up for the difference. This includes the Law on the Rights of Disabled Persons (Law 220/2000), passed by Lebanese legislators in 2000 and designed to safeguard the welfare of disabled citizens. However, the government has not implemented these laws in practice.”
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.